the force of the enemy, when aggregated, the whole being under the command of Brigadier General P. O. Hebert, I estimate their nominal strength at 4,000 men, all cavalry, with two pieces of artillery. I do not think the effective force exceeded 1,000, many of the men being unfit for duty on account of sickness. At oak Ridge, and also at Monroe, we found a number of hospitals established, all of them crowded with sick. In the town of Monroe, the enemy abandoned a small amount of commissary stores and forage. I found the inhabitants well disposed, and many expressions of satisfaction at the occupancy of the place by the Federal Army. The evidences of residuary loyalty were marked, and, in my judgment, only require the certainty of the establishment of Federal authority to assume the form of open declaration of attachment to the Federal Government, with demonstrative acts of loyalty for its maintenance.
I found two small earthworks thrown up by the enemy on the west bank of the Washigta, immediately opposite the town; they were not occupied. Three miles west of these works about 5,000 bales of Confederate cotton had been collected and stored. This the enemy burned as they retired. I found the country in a high state of cultivation, with immense crops of corn and cotton maturing, and vast numbers of cattle fattening in the cane-brakes and swamps. I have no doubt but that forage and beef could be secured from this country in sufficient quantities to supply the department for the ensuing winter. The cotton crops of the past two years are ginned and baled on the plantations. So far as I could learn, no cotton has been burned west of Bayou Macon. I think i do not overestimate the cotton in this region that could be taken possession of by the Government in fixing the amount at 50,000 bales.
The railroad, known as the Vicksburg and Shreveport Railroad, is not operated beyond Monroe. The rolling-stock is limited-five engines and about fifty freight and two or three passenger cars. The road is in running order to Delhi. Some small portion of the machinery of each engine was removed, to prevent the use of the road, but could easily be supplied. I did not consider the destruction of road or rolling-stock a military necessity, it being of no value for military purposes to the enemy. I therefore left them undisturbed.
I remained at Monroe one day and night, and, having fully accomplished the objects of the expedition, as expressed in your letter of instruction, commenced my return march on the 28th ultimo, reaching the Mississippi River on the morning of the 2nd instant. Embarking the entire command on boats provided for that purpose, have returned the entire command to their respective commands at this post. The distance accomplished by the command was 152 miles marching, and about the same distance on boats. The endurance and spirit of the command during the entire expedition were of the highest order. It affords me much pleasure to bring to your special notice the fact that the march throughout the entire distance was marked by comparatively no acts of vandalism or plunder, the whole command treating all the inhabitants with the utmost forbearance and consideration, giving them no cause of complaint. To all the officers of the command I am indebted for the promptness and efficiency with which they discharged their several duties, and to it attribute the success of the expedition.
JOHN D. STEVENSON,
Major General J. B. McPHERSON,
Commanding Seventeenth Army Corps.